In March 2023, actor Jonathan Majors was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Grace Jabbari. On Monday, December 18, Majors was found guilty of reckless assault and harassment in the subsequent trial. Shortly after the verdict was rendered, a studio representative for Marvel Studios confirmed that the actor would no longer be involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (via Deadline). Majors previously played the villain Kang the Conqueror.
Ever since Jonathan Majors’ arrest was made public, fans of the MCU have been waiting to see how Disney and Marvel Studios would respond. For the most part, the studio was quiet, allowing the legal process to play out before making any decisions.
While it is clearly secondary to the real-life impacts of this legal case, the implications are also significant for the future of the MCU. Majors was set to play a major role in the current storyline, even serving as the title character in the next Avengers movie, The Kang Dynasty. Presumably, Marvel will have to recast the role, shift the focus of the movie, or both.
The studio was seemingly prepared for this eventuality. Just last month, Deadline reported that Marvel had tapped Michael Waldron (Loki, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) to write Avengers 5 in addition to Avengers 6, which he was already writing. He replaced Jeff Loveness (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania). It’s entirely possible that Waldron was being asked to rework the story with Majors’s departure in mind.
While Marvel has recast roles before, this is the first time a legal issue has forced the studio’s hand. Notably, the MCU is currently in the midst of the Multiverse Saga, during which we have been introduced to variants of familiar characters such as Loki, Scarlet Witch, Professor X, and even Kang himself. Having a new actor play Kang would not be completely out of sync with the story itself, though it might be jarring for the audience both in and out of context.
None of the shows or movies Marvel plans to release in 2024 have much, if anything, to do with Kang, so the studio has time to figure out its next moves.